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Former Burlington police officer's sexual assault victim seeking damages in federal court

Matthew R. Baumhardt
Posted at 3:38 PM, Jan 29, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-29 16:38:29-05

CITY OF BURLINGTON — A victim of sexual assault and abduction by a former City of Burlington police officer is now suing the former officer and the city in federal civil court, seeking damages for the physical and emotional injuries she suffered during the 2018 assault.

Former Burlington Police Officer Matthew R. Baumhardt was already charged and convicted with two counts of misconduct in public office and two counts of fourth-degree sexual assault. The victim is now suing Baumhardt and the city in federal court, seeking damages for "permanent physical, mental and emotional injuries, loss of enjoyment of life, punitive damages, court costs, and attorney fees," according to a federal criminal complaint Friday.

Baumhardt pleaded no contest to the misconduct and sexual assault charges in June of 2019. He was sentenced to one year behind bars and three years of probation. A Racine County judge also required him to register as a sex offender until his probation concludes.

Following accusations of the incident, Baumhardt resigned from the police department in August of 2018.

According to the federal complaint, Plaintiffs Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield and the Wisconsin Department of Health Services paid medical expenses on behalf of the victim in regard to the crimes. The City of Burlington is also a defendant as it was the employer of Baumhardt when the crimes took place.

The complaint states the victim was attending a wedding at Veterans Terrace in Burlington on July 28 of 2018, and over the course of the night, became intoxicated, though she did not drive to the wedding.

At some point during the evening, the victim left the establishment and crossed the train tracks near Milwaukee Avenue. In doing so she fell, cutting herself. She decided to return to the parking lot near Veterans Terrace, the complaint states.

That is when she heard a male voice say, "Hey, I need to talk to you." She realized the voice belonged to a police officer, standing at the edge of the parking lot. He was dressed in official uniform, with a sidearm and badge, leaning against a police SUV, according to prosecutors.

Fearing she would be arrested if she did not comply, the victim approached the officer. The indictment identifies the officer as Matthew Baumhardt.

The victim explained to the officer what had happened and provided identification, and noticed the officer was also taking notes in his notebook.

Officer Baumhardt then took her phone, shoes and wallet, and told her to put her hands on the side of the police vehicle. Baumhardt added to her that a K-9 police dog was inside the vehicle.

The victim asked if she was under arrest, to which the officer did not respond.

Baumhardt proceeded to illegally search and pat down the victim, the complaint states, despite the officer lacking any reasonable suspicion the victim was armed or dangerous.

That is when Baumhardt sexually assaulted the victim, according to prosecutors.

When she tried to leave to go home, Officer Baumhardt told her "no, I can't let you do that" and that he couldn't let her go because she lived outside of his patrol area, the complaint states.

Instead, Officer Baumhardt led the victim into his police SUV on the passenger's side.

"I’m going to do you a favor but keep your head down or I’ll get in a lot of trouble," Baumhardt told her, according to prosecutors. The victim complied, tucking her head between her knees.

Prosecutors continue in the complaint that Baumhardt drove to a City of Burlington water treatment plant, where he trained police dogs for the city's police department.

He then ordered the victim into the facility, and they walked into the pitch-black building.

The victim told prosecutors she feared for her safety.

Officer Baumhardt then sexually assaulted her for a second time, according to the complaint.

They then returned to the police SUV, and the officer drove the victim to her apartment building. Officer Baumhardt made the victim promise several times she would not tell anyone, prosecutors say.

"Officer Baumhardt used his capacity as an official police officer to commit these acts of misconduct, knowing that such acts exceeded his lawful authority, and exercised discretionary power in a manner inconsistent with the duties of his employment and the rights of K.R., and with intent to obtain a dishonest advantage over her," the indictment concludes.

The City of Burlington Police Department issued the following statement:

"Matthew Baumhardt was placed on administrative leave on August 1, 2018 after the City of Burlington Police Department was made aware of allegations of conduct which occurred on or about July 29, 2018 that included Sexual Harassment, Neglect of Duty, Unbecoming Conduct, and non-Conformance to Law. At that time, the Kenosha County Sheriff’s Department began to criminally investigate the allegations. The City of Burlington Police Department stayed the administrative investigation to ensure that the criminal investigation was not impacted. On August 23, 2018, Matthew Baumhardt resigned from the City of Burlington."

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